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July 21, 2015

NFL: How They Will Finish In 2015?

by Larry Leek
NFL Predictions

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It’s that time again. Time for the predictions to begin concerning NFL teams and how they will finish in 2015. NFL training camps are set to begin in the next two weeks and with the season just 51 days away, as usual this time of year it’s time for the NFL prognosticators to come out of the woodwork.

With that said, Whats On Your Sports Mind has to OF COURSE put in OUR 2-cents worth on how WE think the teams will wind up come the season’s end.

There were a lot of free agent moves in the off season, The biggest move perhaps was last years leading rusher (DeMarco Murray) moving from the Cowboys to the rival Philadelphia Eagles. The 49ers saw longtime RB, Frank Gore leave the team for the what he hopes are greener pastures in Indianapolis, just to name a couple.

Though most all teams improved their rosters by means of free agency and of course the draft the key is did they improve the right way? for most they will continue to struggle within their respective divisions and conferences, once again failing to make the postseason.

So who will those teams be and who will be the teams coming out on top?

As Editor of Whats On Your Sports Mind these are my first predictions for the site (though not by any means my first predictions ever) and there may be a surprise or two, just don’t expect a lot of change in 2015.

Will your team be one of the lucky ones to make the postseason or will they be left out in the COLD with only next year to put their hopes and dreams on?

So let the predictions begin….

This Is Whats On My Sports Mind about this subject.

Lets start off in the NFC beginning with the NFC East.

Dallas 13-3-0
NY Giants 10-6-0
Philadelphia 9-7-0
Washington 4-12-0

I think the Cowboys made GREAT moves in the NFL draft picking players on defense like DE, Randy Gregory and CB, Byron Jones and also signing a beast like Greg Hardy during free agency.

They also added depth to that massive O-line  by drafting Chaz Green out of Florida in Rd. 3 and perhaps the biggest name wasn’t drafted but was signed as an undrafted free agent. When lineman La’el Collins, LSU who was expected to go in the top 5 picks of the first round, went completely undrafted.

Word got out just a couple days before the draft that Collins was wanted for questioning, concerning the murder of his ex girlfriend scaring all 32 NFL teams from taking the risk.

Collins was cleared of any wrong doing and the Cowboys benefitted GREATLY.

But for me the two question marks concerning the Cowboys are Romo’s health and the departure of Murray.

Will bringing in Darren McFadden to replace Murray justify the loss and if not can McFadden, RB’s Joseph Randle and Lance Dunbar together make up for the production Murray had in 2014?

You will notice, I have the Giants coming in 2nd ahead of Philadelphia.

I think New York quietly improved in more ways in the off season than the Eagles who made WAY more noise and most importantly, I feel they are much more sound at QB.

Eli Manning has shown he can win it all twice now and Sam Bradford OR Mark Sanchez have never shown that they can win consistently.

For Manning it might be what have you done for me lately, and though he has struggled a bit as of late, it’s not totally his fault. But overall he has done an AWFUL lot for the Giants organization thru his career however, For Bradford & Sanchez the only question you need ask is What Have You Done For Me EVER ?

New York drafted OT, Ereck Flowers, Miami (FL) to watch Manning’s back, so Manning’s numbers could see some vast improvement in 2015.

MY Sports Mind tells me even though the Eagles did sign the leading rusher in 2014, losing QB, Nick Foles in favor of Sam Bradford, whom they acquired in a trade with the Rams, was extremely puzzling.

It made absolutely NO SENSE and could wind up being their downfall and if Head Coach, Chip Kelly can put Bradford on the NFL QB, map he will have pulled off one HELL of a magic trick to the likes of which Magician, Harry Houdini could NEVER match.

So for that reason alone I think the Eagles will slip a notch, also who knows if DeMarco Murray will even complete his 2nd full season (out of 5) without an injury that will cost him games. If that happens the Eagles could lose more ending up at 500 or below. Imagine the pressure on Bradford OR Sanchez without Murray….

As far as the Redskins, lets just hope FOR NOW they can manage to keep their nickname.

RG III, entering his fourth season has to prove he can take that next step towards becoming an effective NFL caliber QB or this could possibly be his last as a Redskin.

My Sports Mind tells me that the Redskins should begin looking for their next franchise QB ASAP.

NFC North
Green Bay 11-5-0
Detroit 10-6-0
Minnesota 6-10-0
Chicago 5-11-0

The Packers appear primed to repeat as NFC North Champs. Anytime you have a QB the caliber of Aaron Rogers even with the few weapons he has, you have to consider them a contender. The Packers used their 3rd rd. pick in the 2015 Draft to select WR, Ty Montgomery, Stanford giving Rodgers another weapon to throw to along with Randall Cobb. RB,  Eddie Lacy gives the Pack a solid running game to contend with.

On Defense Green Bay spilt their eight draft picks down the middle as far as offense and defense by drafting four offensive players and four on defense hoping to improve their defense that has struggled a bit as of late. Green Bay only has one DE listed on their roster in Datone Jones. Mike Daniels is listed as the other DE on the Packers Depth Chart. They may want to enroll Daniels in the Jenny Craig weight loss program since he weigh’s in at 310 lbs. and only 6.0’ tall.

I don’t think Green Bay will go as far into the playoffs as they did last season, but I do think they will be there again in 2015.

Even though the Lions lost DT, Ndamukong Suh to the Dolphins they acquired former Raven Haloti Ngata to hopefully fill Suh’s shoes, My Sports Mind tells me they still have enough fire power to put up 10-wins and claim at least 2nd place in the division. They have the talent to win it but that will depend on the Pack in My Sports Mind.

Minnesota appears to be much improved, but could still prove to be too immature age wise to challenge Green Bay and Detroit for the top two spots in the division BUT don’t count them out. I have them listed at 6-10-0 but they could very well just as easy go 9-7-0 or better depending on how quickly they can grow up.

Last years 1st rd. pick (32nd) by the Vikes QB, Teddy Bridgewater appears poised for greatness and with RB, Adrian Peterson returning to the team, it should BOOST Bridgewater’s stats.

Chicago just does NOT have enough fire power on offense OR defense to challenge for a top spot in the division even though they had a nice draft, especially drafting players like WR, Kevin White, WV. in Rd. 1 of the 2015 draft.

If QB, Jake Cutler could ever live up to his billing and abilities instead of showing them in spurts, the Bears could have something special. The sad thing is RB, Matt Forte has been such a winner for the Bears it a shame he hasn’t gotten the support he deserves. It would be nice to see the Bears grow up before Forte runs out of juice. He’s entering his 8th season.

My Sports Mind tells me the Bears are still a couple drafts (MINIMUM) away from being able to compete for the division again.

NFC South
New Orleans 11-5-0
Carolina 8-8-0
Atlanta 7-9-0
Tampa Bay 4-12-0

Last year the NFC South was the worst division in all of football and quite possibly the worst division EVER.

The Carolina Panthers managed to win the division with a subpar 7-8-1 record while New Orleans finished in second place at 7-9-0.

I think another full year of having Head Coach, Sean Peyton back in the saddle will help the Saints to improve on their 2014 record enough for them to win the division in 2015.

They used six of their 9 draft picks in 2015 to hopefully shore shore up their depleted defense.

If they can protect QB, Drew Brees and keep him on the field, they definitely have a good chance to improve on their dismal 2014 record and My Sports Mind tells me they will.

For Carolina to repeat as division champs, they will need to keep a healthy Cam Newton and hope their defense can improve. They do have a nice linebacking core with Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis, Now they add Shaq Thompson (25th overall pick) to that group.

You can’t count the Falcons out either, but their defense must improve from last years short comings and since the Falcons passed on Georgia native RB, Troy Gurley, they best be finding a running game for QB, Matt Ryan or it will be another LONG season for Atlanta.

Tampa Bay definitely improves at the QB position by selecting Florida State’s Jameis Winston but they still need more puzzle pieces to complete the picture and become a contender. Look for Winston to have a fairly nice rookie season regardless.

NFC West
Seattle 11-5-0
St. Louis 10-6-0
Arizona 6-10-0
San Francisco 5-11-0

Over in the NFC West Seattle is still the team to beat, they haven’t lost a step from the teams that has attended the last two Super Bowls as a participant, winning the first and losing last year on one pass that should have NEVER been thrown.

My Sports Mind tells me that the Seahawks were one rush away on the goal line from a second straight title. But OH Well, you live by the pass and as they found out, you DIE by it as well.

Perhaps the Hawks biggest acquisition did not come by way of the NFL draft, but by free agency instead when they lured TE, Jimmy Graham away from New Orleans. He will give QB, Russell Wilson a huge target in mid range yardage situations.

The Seahawks are solid at RB since they re-signed Marshawn Lynch. Lynch may not have much to talk about but his feet sure do.

Enter the MUCH improved St. Louis Rams.

Head Coach Jeff Fisher, as you can tell has been putting his brand on the Rams defense. Last year they were MUCH improved on that side of the ball.

They are stacked along the line with DE’s  Chris Long and Robert Quinn, DT’s Michael Brockers and Aaron Donald.

The big question mark’s for the Rams are on offense. Can newly acquired QB, Nick Foles get to that next level? Under Head Coach Jeff Fisher My Sports Mind tells me he can.

Also can rookie RB, Troy Gurley over come the knee injury he sustained in his final season at Georgia to become the starting RB for the Rams?

My Sports Mind tells me he will on both subjects and also I feel if he can stay healthy he will eventually become the #1 RB in the NFL.

Arizona looked great last season, especially on defense and as far as offense goes they were no slouch. Had QB, Carson Palmer NOT sustained the season ending injury by tearing his Achilles Tendon, the Cardinals would have been a contender for the Super Bowl.

Can they achieve that this season? It will depend and hinge on the return of Palmer.

They do still have WR, Larry Fitzgerald one of the best in the game, but without Palmer the Cards chances would be slim to none as far as winning the division.

It’s hard to believe how far the 49ers have fallen in just a couple of seasons removed from their Super Bowl loss to the Ravens. They lost their head coach, longtime RB, Frank Gore to free agency and key personnel on defense to retirement.

The 49ers still have QB, Collin Kaepernick, but last year it appeared that Kaepernick had lost confidence.

Look for the 49ers to fall even further out of contention in 2015.

In The AFC
AFC East
New England 13-3-0
Miami 10-6-0
Buffalo 7-9-0
NY Jets 4-12-0

The Super Bowl Champ New England Patriots not only appear ageless as far as QB, Tom Brady is concerned. Brady has had a brilliant career over the last 15 seasons and if I hadn’t mentioned it was his 16th season coming up, on tape anyway you would NEVER be able to tell.

For New England to repeat as champs Brady will have to stay healthy and a reduced suspension would help.

As it now stands Brady is suspended for the 1st four regular season games ( I shouldn’t have to explain why). If the Patriots don’t win at least half of those under QB, Jimmy Graoppolo it could be too much for the Pats to overcome.

New England had a nice draft on defense, using 7 of their 11 draft picks on that side of the ball. They also drafted OG, Trey Jackson, Florida St. to give Brady extra protection. GOOD MOVE!

In the AFC East however, my much improvement tag has to go to the Dolphins.

They landed the biggest free agent prospect on defense with out a doubt by grabbing up DT, Ndamukong Suh, stealing him away from Detroit and they gave QB, Ryan Tannehill a nice target to throw to in 1st rd. pick WR, Devonte Parker, Louisville.

The Dolphins have made some nice strides gaining on the Patriots but how much? We won’t know that until the 2015 season is well underway.

Buffalo could also be a sleeper in the East, but My Sports Mind has yet to be impressed by Head Coach, Rex Ryan.

I was never very impressed with the way he ran the Jets when he was head coach there and find it hard to believe that he learned enough there OR during the off season, to suddenly make Buffalo a contender.

The New York Jets have also done some nice things with recent draft picks and they also managed to lure CB, Darrelle Revis back to New York and they also got a nice pick in the 1st rd. of the 2015 draft by selecting DE, Leonard Williams, USC to add to that already talented defense.

The biggest question for the Jets is at the most important position of all QB. My Sports Mind tells me that Geno Smith is NOT the answer. Perhaps backup Ryan Fitzpatrick can get the Jets back to the postseason, BUT I highly doubt it.

AFC North
Baltimore 11-5-0
Cincinnati 10-6-0
Pittsburgh 9-7-0
Cleveland 3-13-0

In the AFC North it appears that the Baltimore Ravens still rule.

The Ravens lost NT, Haloti Ngata to free agency and the Detroit Lions. 3rd year DT, Brandon Williams is listed as #1 on the Ravens depth chart to replace Ngata.

The Ravens also used their 3rd pick of the draft (rd.3) to select DT, Carl Davis, Iowa and have him in the #2 slot behind Williams.

The Ravens also drafted stud  WR, Breshard Perryman, UCF with the 26th pick of the 2015 draft, giving QB, Joe Flacco yet another weapon on offense to complement former Carolina Panther WR, Steve Smith.

It will be a tough task unseating the Ravens in the AFC North but The Bengals or Steelers have a chance.

Cincinnati used their 1st and 2nd rd. draft picks in the 2015 draft to select OT’s, Cedric Ogbuehi, Texas A&M and Jake Fisher, Oregon. Both are expected to contribute immediately according to team officials for for QB, Andy Dalton they couldn’t be more welcome.

Cincinnati used five of their nine draft picks on offense in hopes of putting up more points, however the Bengals and Dalton’s biggest issue haven’t been during the regular season so much but in the postseason during the Dalton era.

The Bengals  have made the playoffs fourth straight season, but Andy Dalton & is 0-4 with 3 passing touchdown, six interceptions and a slightly better than 18.0 Total QBR in his playoff career. So hopefully the additions of Ogbuehi and Fisher will enable Dalton to Improve on that.

The Pittsburgh Steelers should be much improved on defense and the offense should be ok, baring any injuries to aging Big Ben Roethlisberger.

The Steelers spent six of eight draft picks in 2015 on defense, selecting OLB, Bud Dupree, Kentucky with the 22nd pick overall. Pittsburgh did however, spend their 2nd rd. pick on offense by drafting WR, Sammie Coats, Auburn. Both Dupree and Coats should contribute to the team’s stats on their respective sides of the ball quite a bit in 2015.

The Cleveland Browns had possibly one of their best drafts in years in 2015, but it won’t be enough to put the Browns in contention for any postseason possibilities.

seven of their thirteen (YES I said 13) picks went for defensive help. DT, Danny Shelton, Washington will become a household name for Browns fans. Defense is something they desperately need.

BUT to be honest the well was and is just as dry on offense, Especially at QB.

When you look at the position for Cleveland, it’s like humm, ah ha, well ok then, Exit former QB, Bryan Hoyer and Enter Journeyman and 13 yr. veteran Josh McCown now with his 6th team.

Over the last 12 seasons McCown has thrown for 61 TD’s and 59 Ints. His career qbr. rating is a mediocre 76.1 and Josh is currently listed #1 on the Browns depth chart. 2nd year QB, Johnny Manziel is listed as #2 on the chart but that could change quickly if McCown struggles.

AFC South
Indianapolis 11-5-0
Houston 10-6-0
Tennessee 6-10-0
Jacksonville 2-14-0

For now you have to admit that Indianapolis are a head & shoulders above the rest of the AFC South teams. For one thing they have perhaps the BEST QB, to walk out of college on to the NFL field since New England’s Tom Brady in Andrew Luck.

If the Colts could just finish the job of getting Luck all the weapons he needs to take it to the next level their fans could really see the results it COULD yield.

Indianapolis used their 1st rd. pick in the 2015 draft to snag WR, Phillip Dorsett, Miami (FL). They feel Dorsett will help boost Luck’s stats and My Sports Mind agrees. They could use more help on the O-line, something the Colts didn’t address until the 7th rd. of the draft when they drafted OG, Denzell Goode, Mars Hill.

On defense the Colts still have some work to do as well, but they do have some decent players there. 7th year CB, Vonte Davis had 4 Ints. last year making it 17 during his career.

After selecting Dorsett with the 1st pick, the Colts used their next two (both 3rd rounders) to select CB, D’Joun Smith, Fla. Atlantic and DE, Henry Anderson, Stanford, so their defense should show some improvement.

Either way it will be enough to keep them atop the AFC South.

Houston should show some improvement IF recent additions such as ROLB, Jadeveon Clowney the overall #1 pick in the 2014 draft or recent addition and former Browns QB, Brian Hoyer can show improvement.

Thus far Clowney and the word Bust go hand in hand as Jadeveon was bitten with the injury bug in his 1st professional season and QB, Brian Hoyer showed brief promise in Cleveland before fizzling out and thus being allowed to leave.

Elsewhere the Texans have numerous solid players and the 1st one that comes to everyone’s mind is DE, JJ Watt, also NT, Vince Wilfork and on offense RB, Arian Foster is a beast, but slowed up a bit last season. so hopefully for the Texans after six seasons, Foster still has plenty of gas left in the tank.

Tennessee took QB, Marcus Mariota, Hawaii with the 2nd overall pick of the 2015 draft but Mariota finally signed today with the team and he was the last of the 1st round selection’s from this years draft to sign and it wasn’t over money, but instead a clause in the offer from Tennessee.

The Titans have been the last team to sign their 1st round pick the last three seasons and was next to last to sign their 1st round selection in 2012, so it comes as NO surprise that Mariota was the last 1st rounder to sign this year.

Elsewhere the Titans In My Sports Mind are still quite a ways from competing for the division.

Tennessee selected WR, Dorian Green Beckham, Missouri with their 2nd rd. pick. Beckham is a nice pick and could give Mariota a nice weapon.

Jacksonville actually had a great draft and it would not surprise me if they finish ahead of Tennessee and challenge the Texans for the #2 slot in the division. I don’t think the postseason is possible for the team and as far as that goes they could just as well finish right where I have them DEAD last.

The Jaguars had nice picks in rds. 1-5 and all five could contribute to the team immediately. BUT at the end of the day Jacksonville’s talent cupboard was SO bare even mother Hubbard herself could contribute.

Jacksonville took RB, TJ Yeldon, Alabama with their 2nd rd. pick in the 2015 draft and Yeldon will definitely ease the pressure on 3rd year QB, Blake Bortles. They also stole WR, Rashad Greene Fla. St. in the 5th round, to give Bortles yet another weapon. They used their 3rd rd. pick to select OG, AJ Cann, South Carolina to watch Bortles back.

AFC West
San Diego 10-6-0
Denver 10-6-0
Kansas City 9-7-0
Oakland 7-9-0

Over in the AFC West you are going to have an ole fashion slugfest with all four teams looking capable of taking the crown.

With all due respect to recent AFC West champ the Denver Broncos I think that by San Diego adding RB, Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin with their 1st rd. selection in the 2015 draft they have the final piece of the puzzle to surpass Denver for the AFC West title IF QB, Phillip Rivers can stay healthy.

The rest of the Chargers 2015 draft wasn’t all that after you get past Gordon but with San Diego finishing at 9-7-0 last season and 3rd in the division, tying 2nd place Kansas City also at 9-7-0, Gordon’s addition could get them over the hump.

If you look at the way I have San Diego, Denver and Kansas City finishing, only one game separates all three teams, so it could go either way and even the improving Raiders could contend for the title OR 2nd place.

Denver finally got the deal with WR, Demaryius Thomas done, so QB, Peyton Manning has to be elated.

The Broncos used their 1st rd. pick to nab OLB, Shane Ray, Missouri and their 2nd rounder to select OT, Ty Sambrailo, Colorado St.

The biggest quest for the Broncos will be keeping Manning injury free so adding Sambrailo is a plus.

Kansas City Head Coach, Andy Reid has done well since taking over the helm two years ago, though they did slip a bit last season, failing to make the postseason, the Chiefs still managed to finish above .500 and even though I have them listed in 3rd place, slipping another notch in the standings I still have them above .500 and that’s to Reid’s credit.

It’s very possible the Chiefs could do better, even winning the division, but My Sports Mind tells me a few things may have to happen for that to occur. One would be a season ending injury to Bronco’s QB, Peyton Manning.

Kansas City selected two CB’s with their 1st and 3rd Rd. (2nd pick in 3rd) picks and also two ILB’s with their 4th and 5th rd. picks in the 2015 draft, to hopefully provide support in shutting down opposing QB’s LIKE Manning.

Chiefs QB, Alex Smith hasn’t put up huge numbers during his 10 year career, but he has been decent and for now Coach Reid is content to stick with Alex.

The Oakland Raiders are still a mystery at least for now. BUT they have shown recently that they may be coming around, recovering or how ever you want to put it, from quite a tailspin after living in elite status thru out the 70’s and 80’s.

Getting QB, Derek Carr in the 2014 draft was a nice surprise for the Raiders and getting WR, Amari Cooper, Alabama in the 1st rd. of the 2015 draft and signing WR, Michael Crabtree on the FA market has given Carr two very nice weapons.

Oakland also selected DE, Mario Edwards Jr. Fla. St. in Rd. 2 to help shore up their defense, they split all 10 picks down the middle between offense and defense.

Though it is a slim possibility that Oakland could win out in the AFC West it’s not likely, at least not YET.

Well there you have it. My division selections for the upcoming season. As far as the playoffs and who will wind up in this years Super Bowl that’s another subject on My Sports Mind.

After 4224 words I think I’ve said enough for now.

SO Whats On Your Sports Mind about this subject? How do YOU think they will finish in 2015?




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